Newman University will present Professor Michael Berkowitz from University College London as the first speaker in the 2014-15 History Speaker Series. Berkowitz will speak at 7 p.m. on Sept. 18 in Eck Hall, Room 118 on the Newman University campus. The event is free and open to the public.
Berkowitz will speak on “Photography as a Jewish business: From Eastern and Central European origins to oblivion,” which is related to his current research concerning Jews and photography before the Holocaust.
“Before the Holocaust, Jews were tremendously overrepresented in almost every aspect of the photography trade,” Bekowitz said. “This has been nearly forgotten, and historians are only beginning to piece together the earlier state of the field and what it means.”
With the speech, Berkowitz said he hopes students will learn, “the importance of recognizing not only the perpetration of the Holocaust, but to gain some sense of the Jewish civilization that was either utterly destroyed or altered beyond recognition.”
Berkowitz is originally from Rochester, N.Y., and is now a Professor of Modern Jewish History in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College London (UCL). Berkowitz has been teaching there since 1997. He taught at the University of Chicago and at Ohio State University as an Assistant Professor before moving to London.
“When I was in Columbus I had the great fortune of having Kelly McFall as a graduate teaching assistant for my course on the Holocaust. We managed to stay in contact, off and on, over the years,” Berkowitz said.
McFall is now Associate Professor of History and Chair of the Division of Humanities at Newman University. McFall invited Berkowitz to speak at Newman when visiting the United States.
“When Kelly heard that I would be in the U.S. in order to take up a Breitenbach Fellowship at the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, he asked if I was interested in speaking at Newman,” Berkowitz said. “I’m happy and honored to do so.”
Berkowitz is currently working on a book related to the topic of his upcoming speech. The tentative title of the book is Jews, Photography, Modernity. It is designed to follow his already in press book entitled Jews and Photography in Britain, 1850-2007: Connections and Developments (University of Texas Press) based on research conducted as a Ransom Fellow at the University of Texas in 2010-2011.
Berkowitz has previously written several books related to Jewish history. They include The Crime of My Very Existence: Nazism and the Myth of Jewish Criminality (University of California Press, 2007), The Jewish Self-Image (Reaktion Books and New York University Press, 2000), Western Jewry and the Zionist Project (Cambridge University Press, 1997), and Zionist Culture and West European Jewry before the First World War (Cambridge University Press, 1993). He has also edited or co-edited four books, and is currently the editor of a journal, Jewish Historical Studies: Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England.